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India - England to clash in Women's World Cup opener

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jhulan_goswami.jpgEngland and India will serve up an intriguing clash of cultures when they meet on the opening day of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2009 at Taunton on Thursday.

ICC Women's World Cup holder England's game is based on strength and a classical, textbook approach while the physically less imposing Indians mirror the exciting, wristy style of their male counterparts.

"We've played them quite a lot recently and we've been quite successful but they are a dangerous side," said England coach Mark Lane. "They've got some fantastic, exciting batters who hit the ball in funny places and some very good spinners. You've got to make sure that when you've got them down you don't let them back up."

The Group B enco unter is hard to call with the teams having only met once in a Twenty20 International back in 2006, with India cruising home by eight wickets.

Their last meeting in a One-Day International came at the World Cup, with Charlotte Edwards' team recording an emphatic nine-wicket victory. India, though, recovered well to beat highly fancied Australia twice on the way to a third-place finish.

"That all goes out of the window, though," said Edwards. "Twenty20 is a completely different game and India are not a side anyone can count out."

The Indians - and captain and pace bowler Jhulan Goswami in particular - have something of a love affair with Taunton. They won their first Test series in England in 2006 by winning at the ground, with Goswami taking five wickets in each innings. That game coincided with Taunton being unveiled as the official home of the England women's team.

England assistant coach Jack Birkenshaw said of Goswami: "She's a lovely player. She's got great discipline and moves the ball off the seam off a good length. She's clever with it - but we've played her well in our last few meetings."

Whatever the result, both teams are expected to qualify for the semi-finals from Group B ahead of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in the tournament opener South Africa's players launch their ICC Women's World Twenty20 2009 campaign against West Indies at Taunton on Thursday with smiles on their faces and revenge in their minds.

"This is the game we have targeted as a must-win. We're also out for revenge - we lost to them in the World Cup and made a real meal of things that day," said coach Noor Rhode before the Group A clash.

"We think we can reach the semis if we play to our potential. We have the skill, and we're a sporting nation. We just need one tournament to get things really kick-started. Perhaps this tournament can be the one."

Five-time World Cup winner Australia and New Zealand make up the rest of Group A and both are fancied to progress to the final four.

Rhode, however - a dead-ringer for his cousin, former international Omar Henry - was convinced his side could cause an upset.

"We just have to play brave cricket. All we lack is mental toughness. The girls don't play enough, with most of them being students or in full-time work. It's tough on them. But they're strong."

Skipper Sunette Loubser, meanwhile, said her main aim was to get her squad to smile after their disappointing showing in the World Cup earlier this year, when they finished seventh.

"We messed up big time there and went down to West Indies. I think it was nervousness. It's good that this tournament has come along quickly, so we can get over it. We had fun in our warm-ups and I want us to keep that going. In the World Cup, we tensed up so much and we just weren't ourselves. We had an awesome team meeting before coming here - we decided this tournament we're going to be an ‘us', there is no ‘I'. There is a good vibe among us and we don't want to let it go."

West Indies coach Sherwin Campbell, the former international batter, said his main problem was in reining his players back. "In the World Cup our batting was too aggressive. That may sound strange, but we played the wrong shots at the wrong time. Natural talent is fine but you have to keep thinking about the situation the team is in. Even in Twenty20 you have to bat according to the situation."

 

Photograph Courtesy: ICC

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